Giving Kiosks – Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Technology // August 5, 2013

Convenient. Fast. Innovative. Google “church giving kiosks” and you’ll find those adjectives in abundant supply on manufacturer websites . . . along with promises of marked increases in financial giving, an upsurge in event registrations, and a unicorn with your church’s logo hand-stitched on its saddle. (Okay, maybe not that one. But the claims can feel slightly far-fetched.)

“So?” you’d be right to ask your favorite generosity consultant. “Should we hire one of those companies and get things installed? I mean, the unicorn sounds amazing!”

Well . . . No. You shouldn’t. While it’s true that many churches have experienced an uptick in generosity after installing giving kiosks in their buildings, it’s important to realize that those results have very little to do with the machine itself.

Rather, I suspect generosity has trended up in those environments simply because their folks have another option to give. In other words: Yes, it’s a great idea to have a giving solution in your building for those folks who’ve forgotten their checkbooks or don’t carry cash . . . but it’s not necessary to pay thousands of dollars to make it happen.

Yes, thousands of dollars—about $5,000 each, to be exact. And while the manufacturers will say your system will pay for itself in x-number of months, I’m not convinced it’s necessary to spend the money to begin with.  (To be clear: If you already have a system that’s working for you, don’t chuck it! I’m only suggesting that it’s not necessary for churches to invest in them for the first time today.)

Instead, focus your attention on helping people take advantage of your online giving portal. Don’t have an online giving portal? Then back up a few posts [Eliminating Obstacles] and get to working on that first. If you already have a good online presence established, your next step is still probably not a call to a kiosk manufacturer. Why? Aside from the cost, unless you buy into an all-in-one kiosk solution, your online giving portal and giving kiosks will differ in significant ways. If we’re trying to make giving convenient for people, we ought not complicate it by asking them to learn and remember two different systems.

“But, Rusty, we want people to be able to give in the lobby!” Of course you do. So, once you have a solid online giving portal, set up a bank of computers or tablets in your lobby under a “Giving Station” banner, and point them to that portal. (And maybe lock them down so that’s the ONLY area that can be displayed . . . otherwise your youth will be playing Candy Crush Saga between services).

Now your church family has the same giving experience in the lobby as they do from home or from their laptop on the road. Same look and feel. Simple. I love simple. And by the way, I suspect even this solution will soon fall away as people look more and more to mobile devices as their “first screen.” [The Importance of Going Mobile]

Bottom line: Think of the user experience first, save a bunch of money, and still offer your people convenience, speed, and innovative technology. Just don’t promise them unicorns.

Looking for more in-depth information about giving technology? Download your FREE copy of my e-book “Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Giving.”

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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